USA Gymnastics cuts ties with Karolyi Ranch, where Larry Nassar carried out his evil

LANSING, Mich. — Since 2000, USA Gymnastics has used a 40-acre ranch outside Huntsville, Texas, owned by gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi for monthly training sessions and various team camps. In 2001, it officially became known as “USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch.”

As USA Gymnastics developed into a global juggernaut, dominating Olympic competition, the ranch was credited for helping churn out some of the greatest gymnasts of all time.

It also proved to became a house of horrors due to Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, who sexually assaulted numerous national team gymnasts at the ranch through the years. What was once seen as an idyllic location for gymnastics is now a horror scene of gut-wrenching crimes.

Thursday, USA Gymnastics made the obvious first step and terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch and cancelled an upcoming camp.

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Karolyi Ranch
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Karolyi Ranch
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Gymnast workout with their personal coaches during a morning workout session at Karolyi Ranch, which was named an Official USOC Training Site and also Hilton announcing their partership with USOC on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Atmosphere at Karolyi Ranch on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Bela Karolyi, owner of Karolyi Ranch, looks over he morning workout session on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HOUSTON - MAY 9: All-around world champion Shawn Johnson practices balance beam as her coach, Liang Chow, watches. The athletes and coaches come to the ranch one a month to train under Martha's watchful eye, ensuring a unity in coaching philosophy and teamwork.US national team coaches Martha and Bela Karolyi have turned their Texas ranch into the women's national training center. It is a model for how American Olympic sports are trying to create a hybrid of the centralized training systems common abroad and the decentralized system native to the US. (Photo by Mark Sappenfield/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Gymnasts line up before Martha Karolyi, white jacket left, as they conclude their moring work session at Karolyi Ranch on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Atmosphere at Karolyi Ranch on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Alicia Sacramone, a member of the 2008 team that won silver in Beijing works out during a morning session at the Karolyi Ranch on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Gymnast workout with their personal coaches during a morning workout session at Karolyi Ranch, which was named an Official USOC Training Site and also Hilton announcing their partership with USOC on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Members of the USA Gymnastics, Karolyi Ranch, City of Huntsville and Hilton take a group picture on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Gymnast workout with their personal coaches during a morning workout session at Karolyi Ranch, which was named an Official USOC Training Site and also Hilton announcing their partership with USOC on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Martha & Bela Karolyi display banners for their facility as Karolyi Ranch was named an official training site for USA Gymnastics on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
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“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December,” said new USAG CEO Kerry Perry, who took the job after CEO Steve Penny resigned due to the scandal. “Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.”

Nassar, 54, is already serving time for child pornography and is awaiting sentencing in Ingham County, Michigan, for sexually assaulting about 140 women. He faces up to 125 addition years in state prison for his crimes.

Bela Karolyi retired as national team coordinator in 2000. His wife, Marta, succeeded him and retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics. Both deny any wrongdoing in Nassar’s crimes. They still own the ranch and had hoped it would continue to be used by USA Gymnastics.

A sentencing hearing for Nassar is being held this week in Lansing, Michigan. Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina has allowed any and all of Nassar’s victims to provide victim impact statements. The hearing is in its third day and may stretch into next week. At least 105 women are planning on addressing Nassar and the court.

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Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics doctor, in court
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Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics doctor, in court
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, stands during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, stands with his legal team during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, stands with his legal team during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar,a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, listens as Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis speaks at his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 16: Larry Nassar listens to victim impact statements prior to being sentenced after being accused of molesting about 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 16, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Victim and former gymnast Aly Raisman speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, (L) a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, sits in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, arrives in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 17: Larry Nassar appears in court to listen to victim impact statements during his sentencing hearing after being accused of molesting more than 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 17, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 17: Larry Nassar listens to victim impact statements during his sentencing hearing after being accused of molesting more than 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 17, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 16: Larry Nassar listens to victim impact statements prior to being sentenced after being accused of molesting about 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 16, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 16: Larry Nassar listens to victim impact statements prior to being sentenced after being accused of molesting about 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 16, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 16: Larry Nassar appears in court to listen to victim impact statements prior to being sentenced after being accused of molesting about 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 16, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LANSING, MI - JANUARY 16: Larry Nassar appears in court to listen to victim impact statements prior to being sentenced after being accused of molesting about 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where he had his sports-medicine practice on January 16, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar has pleaded guilty in Ingham County, Michigan, to sexually assaulting seven girls, but the judge is allowing all his accusers to speak. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Asst. Michigan Attorney General Angela M. Povilaitis (L) speaks during the hearing of former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar listen with (2nd R) defense attorneys Shannon Smith (2nd L) and Matt Newberg (R) in 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar watches a video his interview with the police in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar (C) with defense attorneys Shannon Smith (L) and Matt Newberg (R) in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is seen in the 55th District Court where Judge Donald Allen Jr. bound him over on June 23, 2017 in Mason, Michigan to stand trial on 12 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
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Repeatedly, former elite national gymnasts, including Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney, have vividly described how Nassar raped them at the Karolyi Ranch. American gymnastics legends such as Simone Biles, Gabby Douglass and Ali Raisman have all said they were abused by Nassar.

Nassar was particularly adept at using the ranch’s isolation and the crushing pressure on the young athletes during those camps to gain trust. Women say he provided encouraging words after a day of demanding coaching, candy that was otherwise banned and of course one-on-one treatments for injuries that were actually assaults.

“It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated,’  Maroney, who won gold and silver at the 2012 Olympics, said.

USA Gymnastics national team camps did not allow parents to accompany their children, which meant teenage girls were there without parental supervision.

“It’s hard for an outsider to understand the world of elite gymnastics and understand how a man like Larry could gain the trust of so many young girls and sexually abuse them for so many years,” former national team gymnast Jeanette Antolin said. “For a young girl away from her home, being worked into exhaustion by screaming coaches, a kindly doctor offering relief from pain and a little sympathy was easy to like.”

With the Karolyi Ranch now symbolic with some of Nassar’s worst crimes against some of America’s most famous gymnasts, this is a necessary, if just the first step, in USA Gymnastics reforming its policies to prevent future tragedies.

It does nothing to answer or potentially excuse USA Gymnastics larger role in the crimes of Larry Nassar.

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